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Reforming peacekeeping

  • Over 5.200 IDPs are currently working as Community Policy Volunteers all over Darfur, all trained and equipped by UNAMID and UNDP, providing liaison between the local community and the police officers.
In the more than seventy years of its existence, UN Peacekeeping has evolved significantly as a tool of international crisis response. 

UN Peacekeeping has proven to be an essential instrument for global peace and security over the years. Our fourteen peacekeeping operations around the world today illustrate the wide range of mechanisms, strategies and resources that the United Nations marshals in support of peace and security. 

In recent years, however, our missions have been deployed to increasingly difficult and complex environments, even as demand for peacekeeping has increased. Our core business processes have not kept up with these demands. Mandate implementation is hindered by slow, unresponsive service delivery, micro-management by governing bodies, a trust deficit with Member States and with staff, inadequate resourcing of and ineffective implementation of mandates and a lack of transparency and accountability.

Action for Peacekeeping (A4P)

Peacekeeping is one of the most effective tools available to the United Nations in the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security. Yet peacekeeping faces several challenges that undermine its ability to deliver on its mandates. Political solutions are often absent, and missions seem to have mandates that lack focus and clear priorities. Complex threats in several environments are causing a rise in fatalities and injuries of peacekeepers, and missions have sometimes lacked the personnel and equipment to meet these threats. Peacekeeping operations have also faced challenges in delivering on protection mandates and in contributing to long-term, sustainable peace, and in achieving coherence with other actors operating in the same contexts.

To respond to these challenges, the Secretary-General launched Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) to renew mutual political commitment to peacekeeping operations. The Secretary-General has called on Member States to join him in developing a set of mutually-agreed principles and commitments to create peacekeeping operations fit for the future, with the goal of reaching a formal agreement by the end of 2018.

Future of Peacekeeping Project

Peacekeeping remains one of the most effective tools available to the UN to assist host countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace. Our missions operate in a constantly changing environment, impacted by – and shaping – the social, political and economic changes in the places where we are deployed. To ensure that UN operations continue to make a positive contribution in the next five to ten years, it is critical that we examine the factors that may influence the direction of UN peace operations, to adjust and prepare for the future. 

The Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, which was launched in 2018 by Secretary-General António Guterres, is focused on strengthening the peacekeeping operations of today. and remains the central framework for peacekeeping policy and reform. The Secretariat is currently developing its priorities for a next phase of A4P implementation in 2021 and beyond.

At the same time, longer-term trends in peace and conflict need to be addressed. In this regard the Future of Peacekeeping project attempts to imagine what the peacekeeping operations of the future might look like.  The project draws on broad and inclusive consultations with UN and non-UN stakeholders, including discussions within and outside of the UN Secretariat as well as dozens of in-depth interviews with peacekeeping stakeholders such as representatives of Member States, academia, civil society, regional organizations and former peacekeeping practitioners. 

The objective is to produce a paper for the consideration of UN leadership, reflecting thinking on the future of peacekeeping with proposals for possible policy reorientations and changes. The project will feed into the Secretary-General’s common agenda for the future. The project aims to respond to such questions as: what conflicts may the UN be called upon to respond to in the coming decade? What are some of the threats and challenges to peace and security that the United Nations should prepare for? How has the context on the ground changed and how can the Organization position and adapt its operations to continue to play a valuable and effective role in addressing future peace and security challenges?

Learn more about Future of Peacekeeping project here and take the survey to share your views.

Reform in 2017 

Secretary-General António Guterres has proposed reforms in the United Nations peace and security architecture, in the UN’s management system and structures, as well as in the UN development system.

His vision of  the reform of peace operations places politics at the centre of our work. It has the overall objective of reducing fragmentation for better delivery, to make the peace and security pillar more coherent, nimble and effective by prioritizing prevention, sustaining peace and delivery on Agenda 2030. 

A series of strategic reviews of major peacekeeping operations have also been initiated which will focus on assessing the presence of conditions for successful mandate implementation with a view to recommending adjustments to the Security Council. Parameters of assessment for the reviews will include the relevance and pertinence of mandates, the political environment and will of key parties, our operations’ comparative advantage vis-à-vis regional, UN and other partners, and the configuration of support for the mission. 

These reviews will identify ideas for new, enhanced peacekeeping approaches and will strengthen our cooperation for prevention through early action, as opposed to merely reacting to outbreaks of violence. 

High-Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations

Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established a High-level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations on 31 October 2014, to make a comprehensive assessment of the state of UN peace operations today, and the emerging needs of the future. Announcing the decision, the Secretary-General said that “the world is changing and UN peace operations must change with it if they are to remain an indispensable and effective tool in promoting international peace and security.” With the 15-year anniversary of the Brahimi report approaching, the Secretary-General felt that it was necessary to again take stock of evolving expectations of UN peacekeeping and how the Organization can work toward a shared view of the way forward. 

The 16-member Panel was chaired by Mr. Jose Ramos-Horta (Timor-Leste) with Ms. Ameerah Haq (Bangladesh) as Vice-Chair. It  drew together a wide range of experience and expertise.

The Panel considered a broad range of issues facing peace operations, including the changing nature of conflict, evolving mandates, good offices and peacebuilding challenges, managerial and administrative arrangements, planning, partnerships, human rights and protection of civilians.  The review  encompasses both UN peacekeeping operations as well as special political missions , which are referred to collectively as “UN peace operations.

The Secretary-General received the Panel's report on 16 June  2015. The Secretary will study the recommendations of the report carefully and transmit it to the General Assembly and the Security Council.

    New Horizon

    The New Horizon process was initiated in 2009 to:

    • Assess the major policy and strategy dilemmas facing UN Peacekeeping today and over the coming years; and
    • Reinvigorate the ongoing dialogue with stakeholders on possible solutions to better calibrate UN Peacekeeping to meet current and future requirements.

    A New Partnership Agenda: Charting a New Horizon for UN Peacekeeping is an internal document prepared as part of the “New Horizon” process of developing a forward agenda for UN Peacekeeping. It reflects both the perspectives of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Field Support (DFS).

    The paper, which was released to Member States and peacekeeping partners in July 2009, supported a reinvigorated dialogue with the aim of forging a peacekeeping policy agenda that reflects the perspectives of all stakeholders in the global peacekeeping partnership.  Building on previous peacekeeping reform efforts, the paper highlighted achievements in improving the peacekeeping tool and identified outstanding, as well as new, dilemmas that require the attention of the peacekeeping partnership. 

    Key elements of the paper were taken up by the Secretary-General in his Report to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations [A/64/573]. These have informed formal and informal deliberations among members of the peacekeeping partnership to help crystallize a common vision of the requirements to bolster peacekeeping to more effectively fulfil its role in support of international peace and security. 

    New Horizon Booklet CoverNew Horizon Initiative: Progress Reports

    Since the issuance of the New Horizon document, DPKO and DFS have issued periodic progress reports summarizing the principal outcomes of the peacekeeping dialogue and implementation efforts in the context of the New Horizon process.

    The most recent progress report, The New Horizon Initiative: Progress Report No. 2 was issued in December 2011. It outlines progress on implementation of reform priorities since the issuance of The New Horizon Initiative: Progress Report No. 1 in October 2010 and highlights ongoing efforts to improve the effectiveness of UN Peacekeeping.

    Brahimi Report

    In March 2000, the Secretary-General appointed the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations to assess the shortcomings of the then existing system and to make specific and realistic recommendations for change. The panel was composed of individuals experienced in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

    The result, known as the Brahimi Report after Lakhdar Brahimi, the Chair of the Panel, called for:

    • Renewed political commitment on the part of Member States;
    • Significant institutional change;
    • Increased financial support.

    The Panel noted that in order to be effective, UN peacekeeping operations must be properly resourced and equipped, and operate under clear, credible and achievable mandates.

    Peacekeeping policy and strategy reform

    Following the Brahimi report, UN Member States and the UN Secretariat continued major reform efforts, including through: